5 Tips for a Happier Life

Rumi Quote

As the new year approaches and we make our resolutions for the new year, I thought it would be nice to share these tips on how to align yourself to be the person you really want to be.

I was going to grow up to be a fashion designer.  I would finish high school and go on to study design at Berkeley.  I’d get a job designing the weird 80’s style clothing I loved at the time.  Then I would meet Prince Charming and fall madly in love.  He would have dark hair and gorgeous eyes and would be sweet and courteous.  He would love everything about me and cherish me and never be annoyed by me.  We’d have a big, fancy wedding.  My dress would have a heart shaped bodice, long lace sleeves that ended in a point over the top of my hands, a long full skirt with a modest train, and would be topped off with a veil flowing down from a white, flowery wreath encircling a professionally done up-do.  We’d have one boy and one girl who would adore me, and I would be the best mother ever.  We would all live happily ever after.  

You can grow up to be whatever you want.  That is what we were told as children.  But is that what we were really taught?   When I think back to my childhood dreams, I can’t help but wonder where they really came from.  I don’t believe they came from my heart.  I think they were born of a combination of messages from adults, television, and my perception of society.  So, to start off, I really didn’t even know what I wanted and hadn’t the tools or maturity to figure it out.  And I also knew that my plan was unrealistic.  I knew I’d probably never make it to college and even if I did, would never be cool enough to come up with clothing designs people liked.  I knew Prince Charming probably wouldn’t cherish someone as annoying as me.  I knew I was never meant for fancy things like wedding dresses and styled hair do’s.  The only part of my plan I ever really believed in was that I would get married to someone and have a couple of kids.  

Surprise, surprise...the only part of my plan that panned out was getting married and having kids.  True to my expectations, it wasn’t Prince Charming I had married, and I wasn’t cherished.   I didn’t expect that life as an adult would be as challenging for me as it was, so in that way I got more than I was expecting, but what I got was in alignment with what I thought I deserved. 

 While I don’t think we choose or cause the hardships that happen to us, I do think they we align ourselves with them and can make ourselves the right people to fill the roles we find ourselves in.  I don’t believe this alignment is a conscious choice, either.  We internalize the messages we receive and let them shape our image and expectations of ourselves.  We take the actions and opinions of others to be a reflection on us and what we deserve.  Once we form this idea of what we deserve, we have aligned ourselves to receive just that. 

 So, what can we do about it now?  As we grow older we often feel as though it’s too late.  We didn’t do the right things in the right order and on the right schedule.  Here are some tips to help you consciously realign yourself:

  1. Let go of “should have been.”  Most of the dreams we formed as children were based on our childhood perception of society and success and most of us focused those dreams on external things.  We thought about what we wanted to be in terms of roles and labels and acquisitions. If those things didn’t work out for us, we often feel as though we failed.  We need to realize that what should have been is always what was.  There is no changing the past and it has formed the present and the present is all that really exists, so everything happened just as it should have to get us to this point, right now.  Right now, right here, is where we have to start. 

  2.  Self-love should be the highest priority and is our greatest goal toward happiness.  I never met a kid who answered that they wanted to love themselves when they grew up.  This needs to change.  We need to learn this ourselves and start teaching it to our children.  Instead of thinking about what we want as being outside ourselves, we need to realize that everything starts within.  We are deserving of love and happiness.  We need to nurture a feeling of worthiness inside of ourselves that aligns us with happiness. 

  3. Stay open-minded.  As we grow and learn and experience life, the things we believe will bring us true happiness may change and that is okay.  Opportunities for happiness may come from unexpected places or may not seem to go in the direction we think we should be going.  If we turn away from them with the idea of waiting for something more suited to expectation to come along, we might miss something that is meant to lead us to even better things.  Try to think in terms of emotions rather than roles or labels.  Such as, “I want to feel secure and comfortable",” rather than, “I want to be rich,” or, “I want to feel safe and loved,” rather than, “I want to get married.” 

  4. Make small goals and work towards them.  If we do the same things day after day, we can’t expect anything about our lives to change.  Even the smallest changes and goals move us forward and should be celebrated. I suggest these goals be made in the interest of self-care until we have attained a healthy level of self-love. Instead of reaching toward career or relationship goals to feel accomplished, think of goals that that really affect your self-esteem.  These goals need to be personalized to fit where you are starting from.  If you are living with depression and have a hard time with basic self-care, such as hygiene or nutritional care, start there.  If you have down the basic needs but are giving hate speeches to yourself in your mind all day, starting with a goal of regular positive affirmations may be appropriate.  A life coach or therapist may be helpful to you in setting appropriate goals if you find this difficult. 

  5. Recognize and let go of judgments.  Making judgments is a natural and important part of being human.  Judgments help us recognize and avoid potentially harmful situations.  However, we need to learn to recognize needless and incorrect judgments of ourselves and others.  We tend to judge ourselves and others very critically, from our appearance to our behaviors, and often label things as good or bad.  Once in this good vs. bad mind set it becomes very easy to dwell on negativity and to feel a sense of failure or discontent.  Letting go of judgments makes it easier to focus on positivity which will keeps us in alignment for happiness. 

      

If you feel that you didn’t grow up to be what you wanted, I urge you to take some time to figure out who you are now and what you want to change.  Realize that whoever it is you want to be, is already inside of you and only needs love and nurturing to come out.  Use the tips above to start aligning yourself with that reality.